“Some operators are using that as a competitive advantage to draw people in, and it’s kind of compelling,” Ms. Mace said, adding that the practice was not widespread. “Your best-in-class operators are striving to be the safest place that you can be as a senior.”
Officials at senior living communities say they are already noticing renewed interest. “We’ve had an amazing uptick in people who are considering senior living,” said Julie Masiello, a spokeswoman for Brightview Senior Living, which owns and operates 45 communities along the east coast, including in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. The vaccine, she added, has been a game changer.
“The isolation has been really tough for people who have stayed in their homes,” she said. “Now with the hope of the vaccine, people are looking at it and saying, ‘OK, I am ready to make this move.’”
Like Atria, Brightview is making the vaccine available to residents who move in. Each Brightview location has scheduled three clinics, from January through early March, operated by either Walgreens or CVS, and will help residents who move in after the last clinic get vaccinated.
By early February, 43 percent of Brightview residents had received their first shot. And some locations, like the one in Warren, N.J., have already had a second clinic, meaning many residents have had both doses of the vaccine. “People are just giddy. Giddy and emotional at the same time. It’s really amazing,” Ms. Masiello said.
About 90 percent of Atria’s communities had held their first vaccination clinics by early February. Given the pace of the vaccinations, some senior living communities may operate within an inoculated bubble within the next few months. “We’re really excited about this post-Covid world,” Mr. Moore said.
At Brightview Warren, residents still need to wear masks, maintain six feet of social distance and follow other Covid safety guidelines, but when they dine at the facility’s restaurant, or participate in activities like happy hours, TED talks or cooking demonstrations, they’re doing so in a community that will soon be largely inoculated.
Ms. Masiello said, “This is the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.”